Thursday, November 30, 2023

Prepper Christmas: Stocking Stuffers

It's coming up on Christmas at Blue Collar Prepping, and the staff got to talking about what to get that hard to shop for prepper in your life. Since I love gadgets and getting new toys, I wanted to do my gifting suggestions in two parts: stocking stuffers and larger gifts. The things I recommend are things I personally have experience with, and would happily buy for folks in my life.

Streamlight Microstream

As much as I joke about electricians being good in the dark, I don't actually have natural night vision. I've gone through countless flashlights over the years, and the little Streamlight Microstream is one of my all-time favorites.
  • It's slightly smaller than two AA batteries end-to-end, meaning it fits wonderfully in my jeans pocket. 
  • A single click on the tailcap switch gives a 50 lumen beam that is bright enough for about 90% of the situations I find myself in, with a runtime in excess of 3 hours. 
  • Double-clicking the switch bumps it up to 250 lumens, which is incredibly bright for a light of this size. In high-power mode, the battery lasts about 1.5 hours. 
It's not the cheapest light out there, but it's tough and reliable. Mine gets pulled out of my pocket several times a day, and it shows minimal wear after over a year of daily carry.

Pocket Knife
I'm specifically talking about what's commonly called a Swiss Army knife, and I have a couple favorites here. 

Personally, I carry a Gerber Armbar Drive, and have for a couple years. Depending on your tool needs, the Scout and Trade versions are also excellent options. It's rare for a pocket knife like this to have a locking blade, but the Armbar series use a solid liner lock with a stout sheepsfoot blade.

Gerber Armbar Drive

However, the classic that comes to mind when folks say "Swiss Army Knife" is the Victorinox Tinker. While the traditional scale color is red, these are available in a variety of other colors as well. My personal tastes lean towards the Evolution, with sculpted scales for a svelte look and a bit more comfort and control in use. 

Victorinox Evolution

Either of these knives are available with an increasing number of tools. These added tools come with a sharp increase in both cost and size, making them more cumbersome to both carry and use, so I tend to lean towards the more basic models.

If you're having trouble deciding, Victorinox knives have a wider range of tools in roughly the same total size, but the Gerber has a far superior cutting blade. If your intended recipient does a lot of cutting, then the Gerber is a better option. I reviewed my Armbar Drive a while back, and you can read that review here.

Lensatic Compass
While any compass can point you towards magnetic north, a lensatic compass is far more functional for actual navigation. This metal-case unit from Stansport is actually an upgrade from the plastic-cased model I've been carrying for almost 20 years.

Stansport Lensatic Compass

Hand Warmers
I happen to live where it gets cold, and I don't always have the luxury of working in places with functioning heat. If that describes someone in your life, a set of electric hand warmers can be an absolute game changer. I keep mine in my hoodie pocket, and they make it so pleasant when I stick my hands inside.

Hopefully I've given you some useful ideas for stocking stuffers for the prepper in your life. Next time, I'll share one of my favorite ideas for an under-the-tree (or Festivus Pole) gift.


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A Prepper's Hanukkah

Hello, fellow Preppers. Hopefully all of you had a pleasant and filling Thanksgiving, Ours was very nice, and our refrigerator is full of leftovers we will consume over the next week or so, including at least one batch of Turkey Soup.

Now we are about to enter the December gift giving holidays. Since this time can cause some amount of stress, I've decided to put together some gift lists to help make shopping easier. So for your consideration, here's a list of eight item categories (with examples) for yourself or the prepper in your life.

LED Keychain Flashlight
Being Jewish, I celebrate Hanukkah, which is also called the Holiday of Lights. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to start my list with a flashlight.

Aurora A1

Only slightly larger than a AA battery, the Aurora A1 packs a lot of light in a small, inexpensive package. It's rechargeable through a USB-C power port (USB cable not included), and the listing claims it can reach full charge in as little as 60 minutes.

The Aurora A1 has five light settings: Moonlight, Low, Medium, High, and Strobe, as well as a lockout mode to prevent unintentional activation.

Don't tell My Wife, but she's getting one of these for her purse light this year.

Emergency Keychain Car Escape Tool
This time of year is also frequently one of travelling, whether to the mall for shopping or out of town to visit family, and a constant risk when on the road is some form of motor vehicle accident. While the likelihood is generally low, and the chance of getting trapped in a vehicle is even smaller, this inexpensive tool makes for an excellent insurance policy.

ResQMe Keychain Car Escape Tool

Combining the ability to both cut a jammed seatbelt and break an inoperative car window in a small and convenient package, every vehicle should have at least one of these devices accessible to the passengers and driver.

Speaking of cutting, a good knife is a treasure. We've all sung the praises of Morakniv and their budget friendly offerings; I keep one in my car kit. 

Morakniv 511

For something a bit nicer, the Ontario Knife Company Rat-3 comes highly recommended and still doesn't break the bank.

Ontario Knife Company Rat-3

Self Adhesive Bandages
Anyone who's dealt with long term storage has probably had the experience of finding some item which was supposed to have a sticky side end up being not so sticky. This happened to me recently when I tried to put up a new Command Hook and the adhesive on the tape strips had de-volatized, but that's a minor inconvenience compared to bandage tape that won't stick. 

Self Adhesive Bandages

I keep a roll of these Self Adhesive Bandages in various places. As added bonuses, they neither pull hair out nor leave sticky residue when removed.

Back to Basics
No gift list would be complete without at least one book. With over 4,000 reviews and an average 4.7 star rating, Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills is high on my wish list.

Back to Basics

With chapters on everything from buying land, to building a house, to planting and harvesting, this book covers a lot of ground.

Ties that Bind
This isn't a Father's Day post, so I'm not going to recommend any actual ties, but rather items that can be used to secure other things. Traditional rope has its place, but tends to be bulky. These two offerings are quite strong (1,100 and 2,200 pound test respectively), and being flat, a larger quantity can fit in a smaller space.

Rapid Rope

Redback Strap

I'm A Frayed Knot
If I'm going to talk about tying things, then the next logical gift will be knot references. While there are an almost infinite variety of knots, most people need fewer than a dozen. These two references each include instructions on over a score of knots.

Knot Tying Kit

The Knot Tying Kit includes a portable plastic card with diagrams, as well as two lengths of rope, and a couple of carabiners for both practice and to clip the cards to a piece of equipment. As mentioned in my Pocket Survival post, I keep one of these in my jacket pocket. 

Useful Knots Book

The Useful Knots Book contains information of tying and using a number of knots and includes information on terminology and rope care as well.

Walk the Line
Socks are a traditional Hanukkah present, but I couldn't bring myself to do that to our readers. Instead, I can wholeheartedly recommend these insoles. They were suggested to me by a podiatrist and make a world of difference when I have to spend a day on my feet standing on concrete floors. 

PowerStep Insoles

One important detail to remember is that insoles should be changed out every three to six months.

So there you have it: eight gift ideas for preppers for the eight days of Hannukah. May you have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season, and I hope you get gifts you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Prepper's Pantry: Thanksgiving

For our American readers, this Thursday is Thanksgiving and I hope that we all have much for which to be thankful. At our house, among the usual blessings of power, clean water, and plenty of food, the nearby wildfire has been extinguished... again. Yes, after it was put out the first time, it reignited. With that worry gone for now, we can focus on Thanksgiving Dinner Prep.

A major part of the Thanksgiving tradition is lots of food. While many families have their own favorite items, there are certain standards that are more common. The following is a by no means exhaustive list of some of the items that can be found on the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Main Dishes
Turkey is the traditional cornerstone dish for Thanksgiving. When choosing size, a good estimation is approximately half a pound per person as a minimum, depending on how much you like leftovers. Butterball has a nifty turkey and stuffing calculator on their website.

Since turkey is generally sold frozen, it's recommended to start thawing the turkey a day or more ahead of time. While the USDA suggests three ways (refrigerator, cold water, and microwave), other sources only list the first two. The amount of time required for thawing will depend on the method used and the size of the turkey.

Thawing Times

When cooking a turkey, a good rule of thumb is 13 minutes per pound at 350° F for unstuffed (about 3 hours for a 12 to 14 pound turkey), or 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey. We layer bacon across the top of ours, because bacon makes everything better.

Turkey ready to go into the oven

Ham is another traditional Thanksgiving food and can be prepared many ways. Pre-cooked spiral cut hams seem to be the most common these days, and they need only to be heated before serving.

Beef Brisket is a perennial favorite at any time, and has become more popular at Thanksgiving in recent years. There are a near infinite number of ways to prepare this dish.

As regular readers know, I like to bake. For Thanksgiving, I usually make one of my favorites, potato rolls are one of my favorites. This is the recipe I use.

Potato Rolls


  • 1 cup lukewarm potato water*
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

*Water in which you've boiled potatoes. If you don't have potato water, use a scant cup water plus 1/4 cup dried potato flakes.


  1. Whisk together the yeast, egg and potato water.
  2. Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients, stirring everything together as best you can. Add the soft butter.
  3. Mix and knead everything together until you've made a smooth dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 5 to 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it's nearly doubled in bulk. This is usually about an hour, but the rise of yeast bread is always an estimation. It may take longer, so be sure to give it enough time to become quite puffy.
  5. While the dough is rising, lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
  6. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 16 pieces.
  7. Shape each piece into a rough ball by pulling the dough into a very small knot at the bottom, then rolling it under the palm of your hand into a smooth ball.
  8. Place rolls in the 9" x 13" pan, spacing them evenly; don't worry if they touch one another.
  9. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise till they're very puffy, and have reached out and touched one another, about 1 hour. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Bake the rolls until they're a deep golden brown on top, and lighter on the sides, 20 to 25 minutes.
  11. Remove the rolls from the oven, and after 2 or 3 minutes, carefully transfer them to a rack. They'll be hot and delicate, so be careful.

Potato Rolls

Mashed Potatoes are another staple. While they can be made with potato flakes or another shelf stable option, fresh is better. My Wife makes ours with sour cream instead of milk. We also occasionally add roasted garlic.

Glazed Carrots were a holiday tradition in my family, and I still make them every year. Boil the carrots until they just start to get soft, drain the water and add butter and brown sugar to the still warm pot. Stir until the butter melts and the carrots are evenly coated.

Stuffing and Dressing can cause serious arguments. In general, stuffing is cooked inside the bird, while dressing is cooked on the stovetop or in a casserole. This is another dish with a near-infinite variety.


Pumpkin Cheesecake
My Wife made this for the first time shortly after we started dating, and it has been mandatory ever since. This needs to chill overnight, so plan accordingly.



  • 9 whole graham crackers (about 4 ounces), broken
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted


  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


For crust:

  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F.
  2. Wrap a double layer of heavy-duty foil around outside of 10-inch diameter springform pan.
  3. Combine graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon in processor. Blend until graham crackers are very finely ground. Drizzle butter over. Using on/off turns, blend until crumbs begin to stick together. Press crumbs onto bottom (not sides) of springform pan.
  4. Bake until crust is slightly golden, about 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer to rack and cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:

  1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Beat in eggs 1 at a time.
  3. Add pumpkin and remaining ingredients.
  4. Beat just until blended.
  5. Pour filling into prepared crust.
  6. Place springform pan in large roasting pan.
  7. Add enough water to come halfway up sides of springform pan.
  8. Bake cheesecake until slightly puffed and softly set and top is golden, about 1.5 hours. Transfer springform pan to rack and cool. Cover and refrigerate cake overnight.
  9. Using knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Cut cheesecake into wedges and serve.

There are many other foods that may be found on the Thanksgiving dinner table, such as cranberry sauce, either home-made or canned, creamed onions, and sweet potatoes. Feel free to comment with some of your favorites.

To all our readers, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Prepper's Hygiene: Cremo Shave Cream for your BOB

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

I don't do many Product Tests outside of camping or prepping related gear, but this is one of those times, as this product is in my Get Home Bag and in the Bug Out Bag pile of stuff that will go into the trunk of the car. I've written about having several personal care items, like toothpaste and a very good liquid soap, in my BOB. When I was younger and single, shaving every day wasn't so important, and when hiking or camping I didn't shave. a at all. Now that I'm older, not single anymore, and The Purple Pack lady has sensitive skin, shaving has become more important to me so I have Cremo Barber Grade Original Shave Cream in my preps. 
 From the Amazon ad:
  • Impossibly slick formula fights nicks, irritation and razor burn
  • Gives you a close, comfortable shave
  • Original formula with a subtle citrus scent
  • 90-day supply, which lasts longer than average shave cream/gel
  • Rich and concentrated cream made with high quality ingredients including Macadamia Seed Oil, Aloe, Calendula Extract, Lemon Extract, Papaya Extract, and Olive Leaf Extract. Paraben Free. Not tested on animals

I was pointed to this brand several years ago by a fellow sales rep when I forgot to pack whatever can of goo I was using at the time. I was converted that week to this wonderful product. I've tried many different brands, from aerosols to other tube-type creams, and this is my favorite. 

What makes this so different, and in my opinion a superior aid to shaving? Several points:
  1. Since this is a non-aerosol, you can put it in your carry-on bag.
  2. A 6oz. tube can last several months.
  3. You don't need to use very much per shave; no more than an almond-sized squeeze will work just fine for the average male face. 
One thing I do need to mention is that your face needs to be wet for Cremo to spread evenly. I mean really wet, to the point of "water dripping off it" wet. To use it, I put the hottest water I can stand on the area to be shaved for 30 seconds to one minute, then squeeze out the needed amount and spread evenly on my skin. 

I find that wetting my hands several times helps to get everything smoothed out well. Since there isn't a 3/8" layer of foam on your skin, putting a little water on your fingers and re-activating Creamo ahead of your next area to shave helps to prevent razor burn. When I'm out of town and not directly responsible for the utility bills, I shave in the shower, which helps keep my skin wet and the Cremo smooth. 

Another difference from traditional canned shaving creams is that Cremo doesn't foam or fluff up when applied, but instead gets sort of slippery as more water is added. Since it isn't fluffy, you'll need to rinse your razor more than you normally think is needed. I use a Schick razor and my beard is not heavy by any measure,  but the razor needs to be rinsed 5-6 times while shaving.

I can't recommend this shave cream any higher than to say that my wife borrows it and keeps a travel size tube in her makeup kit!

Recap and Takeaway
  • Look at this shave cream if you aren't satisfied with your current brand and look at the whole family of products. I'm not sure a Mango shave cream is necessary, but it is your choice and your money! I stick with the original version, as certain fragrances and chemicals give me a rash.
  • The original scent is available in 1oz and 6oz sizes. Sorry, everything else is 6 oz only.
  • Purchased a 6 oz tube of Cremo Barber Grade Original Formula from Amazon, $6.99 with Prime. (Actually I buy a 2 pack, since I know how it works!)

* * *

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!
If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Guest Post: Sausage & Bean Soup

 by George Groot

George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

This recipe is a staple from my childhood. I generally make this soup for my family on Sunday afternoons, as it’s quick to put together and makes a filling meal. It also makes a pretty decent “refrigerator magnet” for any other leftover proteins you may have; just chop them up and add to the soup (although I’ve never tried leftover fish, the beef, pork, and chicken have all been successes).

  • One 14 oz or larger smoked sausage (Kielbasa works fine)
  • One can stewed tomatoes
  • One can each: pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, black-eyed peas (technically a bean, despite the name), and whatever else you have on hand
  • One quart of savory fluid (stock, broth, etc)
  • Seasonings (to taste)

  1. Slice up the sausage into bite-size rounds and add to pot. 
  2. Dump stewed tomatoes into pot.
  3. Rinse the beans before putting into the pot. This will remove a large amount of the specific carbohydrate that ferments in your gut to give you gas.
  4. Cover the bean/sausage/tomato mix with the savory fluid, and heat until it boils.

The notes are after the recipe, because we have manners
This recipe is much like “The Pirate Code” in that it’s “more like guidelines, really.”

My wife and I have made this recipe with beans we pressure canned ourselves. Even with Aldi generic canned beans coming in at under a dollar per can, it’s hard to beat the economy of canning your own legumes. 

What do you do if you can’t get sausage? This is where tinned meats, or pressure canned meats, come into play. The majority of the flavor from the sausage is a “smoky” note, but that’s not important from a nutrition standpoint. You can add back in a lot of “umami” flavor with soy sauce (which is shelf stable almost indefinitely) or even pressure can sausage ahead of time. 

If you keep Kosher or Halal, then obviously your meat options are more limited, but tinned chicken seems to work fine. If you are vegetarian, then there are all sorts of shelf stable “textured vegetable protein” soy options to mix in. 

The best part about this recipe is that it is cheap, quick, and filling, but whether or not it ends up “delicious” really depends on how you season it. I like a few slices of hot pepper (or a few dabs of pepper sauce) to liven it up, along with a few bay leaves, basil, and black pepper for more depth. Sometimes I’ll use “Italian stewed tomatoes” with the basil and oregano already mixed in. One time I used miso soup as the savory liquid, and it worked well enough that my younger son asked for that variation specifically.

There is one trick I’ve learned for rinsing the beans, and that is to use a cheap set of kitchen strainers. I bought mine from Ikea, but any set will do. If you don’t want to waste the water rinsing beans, just dump the contents of each can into the pot; your gut flora will eventually adapt to the non-digestible carbohydrates and the flatulence will diminish quite a bit. 

So if you are ever in a survival situation where water is at a premium you can, as Benjamin Franklin once opined, “Fart proudly.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Prepper's Pantry: One-Pot Meals

In previous posts I've talked about Crock Pots (aka Slow Cookers), Instant Pots, soups and stews, chili, lasagna, shepherd's pie, and other dishes that can be made using a single container, maybe two at most. One-pot meals used to be a staple of world cuisine, and in many places for many people they still are, even though the popularity of separate recipe categories for main dishes and sides have taken over most cookbooks.

Many years ago, when I still went camping, the only cooking pot I brought along was a steel wok. In that I could make nearly anything over the campfire, from hamburgers to stew to biscuits, though generally not all at the same time. It was extremely versatile and allowed me to travel lighter while still eating well. On trail drives, the cast iron Dutch oven served (and still serves) a similar purpose, allowing simple and hearty meals to be made with little need to carry a variety of cookware in the limited space of a chuck wagon. With some thought and preparation, a frying pan or skillet can serve the same purpose in the prepper's kitchen. 

One dish I used to make in my bachelor days was also both simple and hearty, and only required the aforementioned frying pan. I've dredged the recipe up from ancient, long-term memory, so quantities are not exact.

Shredded pork and onions in a cast iron frying pan

Bachelor Chicken


  • Two boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Half a bag (6-8oz) Stuffing mix (I prefer cornbread)
  • Half a bag (6-8oz) Frozen vegetables
  • 1 can Cream of chicken soup (or 1 ¼ cup homemade broth & ¼ cup milk)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Crushed garlic (to taste)


  1. In a frying pan, over medium heat, add olive oil and brown the chicken breasts on both sides (do not cook completely).
  2. Reduce heat and add vegetables around the chicken breast.
  3. Add salt, pepper, and garlic on top.
  4. Use stuffing to make a layer over everything.
  5. Pour the soup over the stuffing.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is completely done, about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve hot and enjoy in front of the TV. Put the leftovers away for the next night, or share with a friend.

For something with a more Mediterranean flavor, this dish is one My Wife has perfected over the years.

Chicken With Onions


  1. 1 cup olive oil
  2. 2-3 medium onions (sliced)
  3. 3-4 lbs chicken (we generally use bone in thighs)
  4. ¼ cup white vinegar
  5. 10 whole peppercorns (½ tsp pepper)
  6. 10 whole allspice (½ tsp ground allspice)
  7. 2-3 bay leaves
  8. ½ cup sliced black olives
  9. Crushed garlic, to taste
  10. Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup of olive oil over medium heat and add the onions.
  2. Sautee until soft.
  3. Add the chicken and cook until browned.
  4. Mix the remaining olive oil and vinegar, add to the skillet with the remaining ingredients.
  5. Add just enough water to cover, and cook until chicken is done. Approximately 30 minutes.
  6. Serve as is or over rice, with noodles, biscuits, etc.
For our readers who are more accomplished cooks, it doesn't require too much creativity to come up with some interesting and tasty combinations that can be prepared in a similar manner. There are many sources of one-pot meal recipes both online and in print.

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we dine. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Guest Post: Pressure Canning Green Beans

by Betty Williams

Betty is a professional canner that started with her grandmother at 5 years old. She is the owner of Homespun By Betty, and makes jams with personality in Statesville, NC. 

Visit to order jams, jellies, butters, and to check out new recipes.

Green beans are one of my favorite things to put up in the summer. They are delicious, and are a staple side dish in my house at least once a week.

Green beans are also a low-acid food and therefore have a higher risk of botulism, a toxin that is produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum which is naturally occurring in soils and can be found on all vegetables. This bacteria doesn’t usually produce toxins, but when sealed in an anaerobic environment (one without oxygen), the bacteria grows and makes the botulism toxin.¹ Unfortunately, the canning process removes all the air from the jars and creates this anaerobic environment where Clostridium botulinum can flourish. 

To destroy the botulism toxin, you can process the vegetables in an acidic environment, such as pickling, or pressure can them to a temperature of 240° F for an extended period of time.² Always use a trusted recipe, and make sure you do your research to verify all information. State universities with a strong agricultural department provide excellent resources for home canning, and another great resource is the National Center For Home Food Preservation website.

Pressure Canning Your Beans

Equipment Needed:
  • Pressure Canner with weighted gauge or jigglier
  • Mason Jars
  • Jar Lifter
Once you have your green beans, wash them multiple times to remove any dirt, insects, or pesticides, then snip off the ends. You can either leave the beans whole or snap them into about 1-inch pieces. 

Next add the beans, any seasonings you want to use, into the jar. When choosing your seasoning, you’ll want to avoid using sage because it becomes very bitter when canned. I like to add fresh garlic, onion, and Rusty’s Original Southern Rub

Fill the jars with water or broth, leaving 1 inch of head space, and de-bubble the jars. To de-bubble, take a wooden or plastic stick and move it around inside the jars. This will bust any air bubbles and allow the jar to heat evenly. Wipe the rims with white vinegar and then put the lids and rings on, screwing the lids fingertip tight.

Fill your canner with the recommended amount of water (see the instruction manual for your canner), and place a rack in the bottom of the canner. Place the jars onto the rack and then close the canner according to the instruction manual.

Heat the canner on the stove over high heat and allow it to come to temperature. When the canner starts consistently pushing steam out of the vent pipe, allow the canner to vent for 10 minutes. Then place the weight or jigglier onto the vent pipe and allow it to come to the correct pressure based on your elevation:
  • For elevations of 0 to 1,000 feet, use a 10 pound weight.
  • For elevations above 1000 feet, use a 15-pound weight.
  • Process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25 minutes.³
After the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to drop to 0 psi. Do not manually vent the canner. Remove the weight or jigglier and allow the canner to rest for 10 minutes before opening; this allows the temperature of the jars to come down slowly and prevents losing any ingredients caused by rapid temperature change.

Remove the jars from the canner and set them on a towel to rest for 24 hours, then check the safety button in the lid to confirm the jar is sealed. Wash and label the jars, and store them in a cool dark place with the rings off.

  1. About Botulism, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. Questions and Answers about Using a Pressure Canner, North Dakota State University
  3. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables, National Center for Home Preservation

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Nordic Poles Revisited

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Now that it's no longer summer, the weather is cooling off in Florida -- by which I mean nighttime temperatures are in the low 70s, maybe even high 60s. This is perfect weather for nighttime walks, and therefore this is the best time for me to get back into the night walking habit I let slip during the summer. 

The last time I talked about Nordic walking poles, I mentioned that while I liked the Attrac poles which I had, I really wished that I had a rapid lock-unlock system for the wrist straps that I could toggle with the thumb of that same hand. As it turns out, Attrac makes a pole with that feature, so I went ahead and bought it. 

Now, I'm going to ask you to follow that link to look at the title. Please note that it says "with Anti-Shock Cushioning" and "Telescopic Adjustment".

It has nothing of the kind. It is a fixed-position one-piece pole, meaning that there is no possible way to adjust its height and there is nowhere to put an anti-shock system without making it a two-piece pole. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. 

On the other hand, it did have the "Click and Go" system that I really wanted, and I had some spare rubber tips lying around, so I decided to give it a try before I returned it... and I'm so glad that I did. 

Despite being non-adjustable, I got lucky; these poles are almost perfectly sized for me (the ideal size for my height would be 42.25 inches, but I'm not going to complain about a 2.75 inch difference), and despite not having any kind of detectable anti-shock system I couldn't notice a difference between them and my other set of Attrac poles which has one. 

I also dearly love the Click & Go system. Not only does it make it easier to do things like manipulate a phone while walking, but I can also use my pistol with the hand strap still attached. Yes, the plastic anchor does get in the way more than a little bit, but despite that I am still able to quickly detach the wrap from the pole, grip my pistol, draw it and dry-fire it. I haven't taken the wraps to the actual shooting range, and I suspect that the Range Safety Officers might have a problem with me shooting a gun while wearing them, so recoil and the plastic anchors might not mix well. But the fact remains that I can comfortably grip, aim, and dry fire my regular carry pistol (a Colt Mustang Pocketlite) while wearing these and that's the important thing, because in a self-defense scenario it's better to be able to operate a gun than have comfortable recoil.

The wraps on the new poles. 

After using these poles for a few days, I went back to my older Attrac poles to see if I could feel a difference. In terms of shock absorption, I could not; but I definitely felt a difference in comfort between the "Click & Go" system and whatever system the older poles had. The older poles also had a tendency to pinch me in the skin between thumb and forefinger, which is something that they didn't used to do. I'm not sure why this happened, unless it's because my grip angle changed. As you can see from the pictures above and below, the two pole styles have subtly different grip positions.

So if you're between 5'4" and 5'6" in height and are interested in Nordic walking, then these are the poles for you. If you're taller or shorter than that, I'm sorry; there don't appear to be any other Attrac poles in this style for you, and you'll either have to get an adjustable type of pole (which I have already reviewed) or take a chance on a different brand. 

Whichever you choose, I wish you the best of luck, and I hope to see you out walking!

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Prepper's Armory: Children and Guns

Everyone knows children and guns can be a disastrous combination. Any of our gun-owning readers who have children, or who have children that visit their homes, need to take certain precautions: safe firearm storage, early introduction to firearms, and proper education & training.

Safe Storage
This is possibly the simplest element, so I’ll start here.  Please note that while it’s the simplest doesn’t mean that it’s simple.

Preventing unauthorized access to firearms is one of the most important responsibilities of any firearm owner. Regardless of whether that unauthorized person is a burglar, a visitor, another resident, or a child, it’s always the gun owner’s job to secure their firearms.

There are a number of options available for secure firearm storage:
  • A dedicated gun safe. There are a wide variety available in different sizes, with various features, and from a number of manufacturers. The downside is that a quality safe is expensive, heavy, and takes up as much space as a refrigerator, if not more. 
  • Gun owners who only have a few firearms to secure may be well served by a small locking case. Many of these come with steel cables for securing to furniture or an interior element in a car. If there are plans to fly with a firearm, some are also TSA approved.
  • The manufacturer’s case that came with the gun may have the ability accept a lock, but they usually aren’t sturdy enough to prevent unauthorized access.
  • If it's a home defense handgun, there are quick access lock boxes available as well. Some have tap code or biometric locks in addition to traditional keyed or combination locks.
  • Most new firearms come with an adjustable or flexible hasp lock that runs through the open action of the firearm, rendering it inoperable. These are also available from Project Child Safe, a program introduced in the 1990s by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
  • Trigger locks are an additional option often used in conjunction with some type of storage container. Trigger locks are not viable on every firearm or firearm type; lever action rifles are a specific example where trigger locks generally don’t work.
None of these options are perfect, and the best option for one person may well be different than that chosen by another. Additionally, none of these security methods work if we don’t use them and use them consistently.

Don’t forget about the ammunition, either. Unless it’s a home defense gun, it’s recommended that ammunition be secured separately from firearms. If necessary, the ammunition can be locked up as well.

Early Introduction to Firearms
I frequently have parents ask me “What’s a good age to introduce my child to guns?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, as it depends on several factors. Most important is the maturity level and mental focus of the child. After that is the physical ability to handle the firearm safely, followed closely by the capability of the parent (or other chosen adult) to pass information on in a way that the child can process.

One thing that often works is to let the child know that any time they want to look at the guns all they have to do is ask. If this precedent is set, make sure it's always followed. 

This recurring visit to the gun safe is also a good time to reinforce the four rules of safe gun handling. Children follow our example more often than our verbal instructions.

The NRAs Eddie Eagle program has been a valuable tool in teaching gun safety to children for over 30 years. Its four precepts of Stop! Don’t Touch, Run Away, Tell a Grown-Up” are easy for kids as young five years old to remember and follow. If this program is not offered locally, look into changing that.

Another useful element is to reinforce how dangerous guns can be if not handled properly. If an outdoor range is available, a gallon jug filled with water and food coloring can be a vivid example of the destructive power of a firearm. If this method is tried, make sure an appropriate cartridge is selected; the higher velocity the better.

Once the basics are thoroughly covered, further training can follow; it's generally a better idea to gun-proof your children than to child-proof your guns. Make sure to check state and local laws regarding minimum age for handling a firearm or any other legal requirements.

Education and Training
Not everyone is capable or comfortable teaching, in which case a source of training will be needed. Proper early education and training can be provided by parents, friends, or certified instructors either individually, or as part of an organization. The most important attributes for an instructor are patience and the ability to explain things in a way a child is more likely to understand.
  • Operation Blazing Sword has volunteer firearms educators all across the country. While not all of these trainers will be comfortable instructing a child, it never hurts to ask.
  • Another good place to start may be your state's youth hunting license program. These programs require a hunter safety course that nearly always involves a firearm safety element. 
  • The 4-H program has provided quality youth firearms training for over one hundred years. The National Shooting Sports Foundation now runs the firearm training element of the 4-H program.
  • At the national level, the NRA has their National Youth Shooting Sports Cooperative Program. They offer resources, programs, and training to assist youth organizations, such as Scout troops, JROTC units, 4-H clubs, commercial summer camps, and more. The local NRA state affiliate organization is also likely to have youth shooting activities.
  • As their skill and interest grows, another source of training and education is Project Appleseed. This program provides history and context in combination with firearm training and shooting events to fulfill their goal of building a nation of riflemen and, as they say on their website, “to show that many of the values that our forefathers relied on to win our independence are still very much in demand today.”
  • Back in the 1950s and even later in some places, schools had riflery teams and taught firearm safety as part of their regular curriculum. More recently, there’s been a movement to reintroduce that type of safety training back into the school system. Look into where that’s going locally, and if no one has started this process, maybe step up and start it yourself.

While this is in no way a comprehensive list, I think I've shown there are many ways to securely store firearms and safely introduce children to the shooting sports.

Remember that children are our future, so teach them well. 

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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